Ruth 1:14-18 (NLT)
14 And again they wept together, and Orpah kissed her mother-in-law good-bye. But Ruth clung tightly to Naomi. “15 Look,” Naomi said to her, “your sister-in-law has gone back to her people and to her gods. You should do the same.”
16 But Ruth replied, “Don’t ask me to leave you and turn back. Wherever you go, I will go; wherever you live, I will live. Your people will be my people, and your God will be my God. 17 Wherever you die, I will die, and there I will be buried. May the Lord punish me severely if I allow anything but death to separate us!” 18 When Naomi saw that Ruth was determined to go with her, she said nothing more.
TIME OF DAY:
The story doesn’t specify the time of day, so I have set it in the late morning.
The sun shines down from above the high rocky cliffs of the wadi.
Naomi is on the right, wearing green, with Ruth to the left, wearing yellow.
Orpah (wearing red) is walking away, on the left.
I spent a long time researching were the land of Moab was, what it was like, so that I could draw an accurate representation of the land. Even so, the story of Ruth was set some 1186 years before the birth of Jesus the Christ, & therefore nearly 3200 years ago. No doubt a lot has changed in the land of Moab since then! For instance, the desert may very well have encroached on much more of the land than it used to. Certainly there is much evidence that the population of Moab was far greater in antiquity than it is today, which could only have been supported by a more fertile land than exists now.
Having done this research I next selected photographs on the internet which could form dramatic backgrounds for this scene of Orpah leaving Ruth & Naomi. I eventually chose a photo’ of the impressive gorge of the Arnon river, as it is referred to in the Bible. Today this area is a nature reserve called Wadi Mujib.
In my cartoon illustration you can see Ruth clinging to Naomi, with her sister Orpah walking away behind them. Each woman carries their belongings in a large sack.
Where was Moab?
The kingdom of Moab was situated east of the Dead Sea, in what is now the country of Jordan. The lands’ boundaries have changed position somewhat over time, particularly the northern one, which could be represented by a line drawn East/West, several miles above the northern edge of the Dead Sea. The western edge of Moab was defined by the coast of the Dead Sea & the southern stretch of the Jordan River. Moab’s eastern boundary met the country of Ammon (home of the Ammonites) and the Arabian desert, from which it was separated by low, rolling hills. The southern border met with the country of Edom, in a line at the southern tip of the Dead Sea.
The Arnon river & gorge has always been an important boundary-line, separating the Moabites from the Amorites (Num. 21:13, 26; Deut. 3:8; Judges 11:18). After the Hebrew invasion of Canaan, the Arnon divided Moab from the tribes of Reuben and Gad (Deut. 3:12, 16). Actually Moab lay as much to the north of the Arnon as to the south! To the north, for example, were Aroer, Dibon, Medeba, and other Moabite towns. Even under Omri and Ahab, who held part of the Moabite territory, Israel did not hold sway farther south than Ataroth, about ten miles north of the Arnon.
The land of Moab was about 50 miles (80.5 Km) long and averaged about 30 miles (48.2 Km) wide. When viewed from the Dead Sea the land of Moab is a high tableland, with very steep cliffs leading down to the shoreline. The average high of the land above sea level is 3,000 ft (914 metres) & 4,300 ft (1310 metres) above the level of the Dead Sea.
Water has cut several impressive chasms or gorges in the rocks leading down to the Dead Sea, the principal one being the gorge of the river Arnon, which is about 1,700 ft. deep and 2 or more miles in width at the level of the tableland, but very narrow, with steep banks at the bottom. These gorges provide good protection from invading armies, having such steep sides that it would be very difficult for anyone to cross them, except in their upper courses near the desert where they become shallow.
Rain falls in winter only, but is usually sufficient to mature crops. The fountains and streams in the valleys and on the slopes near the Dead Sea are numerous, whereas the uplands/tableland are almost destitute of flowing water. The human inhabitants supply themselves by means of cisterns dug into the rocks, many of which are ancient.
About 45 place-names are known in the kingdom of Moab, but most of the towns are now ruins. The principal of these were: Ar (Numbers 21:15); Ataroth, Dibon, Jazer, Nimrah, Nebo (Numbers 32:3); Beth-peor (Deut. 3:29); Beth-diblaim, Bozrah, Kerioth (Jeremiah 48:22-24); Kir (Isaiah 15:1); Medeba, Elealeh, Zoar (Isaiah 15:2, 4-5); Kirheres (Isaiah 16:11); Sibmah (Joshua 13:19);
The limestone hills which form the almost treeless plateau are quite fertile. In the spring they are covered with grass; and the table-land itself produces grain.
Who were the Moabites?
We read of the beginning of both the Moabites & the Ammonites in Genesis 19:30-38. The Moabites were the descendants of Lot’s elder daughter, whilst the Ammonites being the descendants of his younger daughter. Lot was the nephew of Abram/Abraham, so the Hebrew people, the Moabites & Ammonites were thus related.
Deuteronomy 2:10-11 informs us that the Moabites displaced the previous occupants of their land, which they called the Emim.
1:17 PRAYER, Commitment (5.54F)
Ruth was a Moabitess, a member of the Moabites, a foreign (often historically hostile) nation to Israel. Ruth claimed Israel’s God for herself and committed her life to God, and to the one (Naomi) who had introduced her to Him. Commitment to God often comes in the form of commitment to other people. A solemn commitment prayer to God is the first step towards God.